Indian Deaflympics team returns home to apathy, stages 6-hour protest at airport
The Indian Deaflympics contingent, comprising of 46 athletes, were returning home after winning five medals, including a gold (wrestler Vijender Singh), at the Games held in Turkey -- their biggest ever haulUpdated: Aug 01, 2017, 13:55 IST
The Indian contingent of hearing impaired athletes, returning to the country after its best ever performance in the Deaflympics -- clinching five medals, including a gold -- refused to leave the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Tuesday morning (5 a.m.) after realising that not a single official from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) or the sports ministry were present to welcome them.
The contingent of 46 athletes and support staff felt the apathy from the officials indicated that the government were not acknowledging their success at the Games held at Samsun, Turkey. Apparently, the athletes also wanted to speak to sports minister Vijay Goel, to apprise him of the situation.
“The Indian contingent participated in a total of eight disciplines at the games. Out of those eight disciplines, we won medals in three. We won gold and bronze in wrestling, bronze in lawn tennis and silver in golf,” Ketan Shah, team’s interpreter, said.
“The day we won the medals, we told the government that we have made the nation proud. These medal winners made the nation proud, but no one, not even the sports minister, is here to welcome us.”
The athletes staged protest for over six hours before Dilip Singh, a project officer with SAI, reached the airport to receive them.
The SAI official then took the players to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and it has been told that they will be taken to Shastri Bhawan in the evening.
“We have been informed that in the evening we will be going to Shastri Bhawan, but it is not clear that whether the contingent will be meeting the sports minister or the sports secretary,” said Avinash Gupta father of Deaflympics tennis player Parul Gupta.
“What these players wanted just a small welcome at the airport and a photograph with the sports minister. But it’s the irony that they have to stage a protest for six hours to meet their demands. And even now meeting with the minister is not yet confirmed and they have to wait for another five-to-six hours at the Nehru Stadium,” added Gupta.
The gold medal for India was won gold by Virender Singh in 74kg freestyle wrestling competition. He defeated Chakvetadze S of Georgia 18-9 to clinch the big prize.
This was the fourth successive medal -- three gold and a bronze --- for Virender at the Deaflympics.